New Hong Kong Wok is the kind of restaurant that might make you ask yourself, "Am I in Sacramento or the Kowloon Peninsula?" Through the course of our meal last night, my husband and I seemed to be the only non-Chinese speakers there. Being an Asian, I blended in (at least physically), whereas dear Hubby stood out like Moby Dick. The menu was lengthy, partially illustrated, and filled with items you wouldn't find in an Americanized Chinese restaurant like P.F. Chang's. Even I, an oriental-food enthusiast, was unfamiliar with many of their dishes. It didn't matter, though. The waiting staff, dressed in crisp uniforms and speaking with delightful Chinese accents, were eager to answer any question we had.
We ordered three things, two of which we'd had before and the third one was our new little adventure. The salt-and-pepper shrimp--crispy and zingy as usual--made crunchy noises in our mouths as we chomped on their heads and shells. The Mongolian beef, despite its excessive sodium, was (in my personal opinion) worth the risk of high blood pressure and fluid retention. Our adventure, the scallop-stuffed Chinese squash, was the one that stole the show. It was prepared with scallop bits, not whole, juicy, plump ones. Also, there seemed to be quite a bit of grease in the sauce. And yet, in spite of the humble ingredients and oily error, this dish somehow miraculously tasted so, so, so freaking good.
While we were eating, I noticed an apron-clad lady (probably a cook on break) sitting by herself and thumbing her phone at another table. Not a tiny table in a discreet corner. But a big round one on a very conspicuous spot.......you know, the kind that comes with a Lazy Susan and is sizable enough to accommodate a family of eight. And as the diners were quietly chitchatting during their meals, the waiting staff were carrying on a much louder conversation among themselves. Things like these, for many Americans, are probably deemed unprofessional and unacceptable. But I didn't mind. Such casual atmosphere reminded me of mom-and-pop eateries in Thailand. The staff could be boisterous and gabby, and that's fine as long as the service is fast and the food is delicious. The phone-thumbing cook could fall into a slumber on top of the Lazy Susan and snore like a leaf blower. Still, that wouldn't stop me from going back there.